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We are facing a global pandemic that is affecting the lives of everybody on the planet. Most of us have been confined to our homes, which can be very difficult, BUT, we should be grateful that we are living during the digital age, where technology allows us to connect with others virtually all over the world. There are many applications and companies that focus entirely on corporate virtual meetings and digital events. As a company who is part of the European events industry, we have been particularly affected by the pandemic due to cancelled events, quarantine measures and travel restrictions. Until it is safe to hold in-person events, we must embrace the technology that is available and march on with corporate events and meetings. Here’s some things to consider when planning your next online conference, digital meeting or virtual event.
It’s important to consider the sector you are in and the experience of the people who will participate in your virtual event. An online company, for example, will most likely be more tech savvy than a team outside of the digital industry. Those of us who are more accustomed to working face to face will have to adapt to a screen to screen form of communication. This requires considering what type of equipment and programs are needed. Does everyone have a camera and microphone? Will they be using a phone or a PC? Do you need to download anything? Does the program work differently in mobile and desktop format?
It might seem obvious that you consider where your participants are living, but you also have to consider the time zones and different daylight savings times. You don’t want to schedule a meeting and half your participants show up an hour late! You also have to consider other events that are happening at the same time. In the past, it would have been sporting events, or shows, but now you should be researching what online concerts and events have been prepared.
This is crucial for the success of your corporate virtual event. If you don’t have good content, you will lose people’s interest very quickly. Make sure all the slides and materials that will be presented are well-thought-out and concise. The goals of the event should be clearly defined as well as what tools will be used to accomplish them. Don’t over complicate things, sometimes less is more. The agenda should be prepared keeping in mind that people are probably logging in from home and might have other family members and children around. Don’t take up time that isn’t needed. Be intentional and to the point and stay on time. You should also consider having sponsors to help support the cost or time invested in your virtual event. If this is a possibility, make sure you come to an agreement about how to recognise them in an appreciative way.
If you have speeches, presenters, or break out sessions, make sure you practice beforehand to work out all the technological difficulties. There still might be a microphone issue or connection glitch, but you will be so much better off with a run-through; like they say ‘practice makes perfect.’
There are many different types of digital event platforms. Virtual reality, live streaming, breakout sessions, and live chats are just a few of the ways you can reach your audience virtually. It’s difficult to get the “wow” factor online, through a screen, but the more impressive you can make the screen your participants see, the more likely they are to stay interested and enjoy the event. You can use creative design and personal branding to make your company stand out and give your participants a memorable online experience. It’s also important to find out what type of analytics the platform provides at the end of the event, so make sure to ask.
This is probably the most important factor when considering an online event. You need to keep your participants engaged so they resist the urge to sign off mid-event. You have to make them buy into the digital experience by keeping them engaged throughout the entire event. This can be done through surveys, questionnaires, raffle prizes, trivia, and Question and Answer sessions to name a few. You can also use marketing and social media to give attendees a sample of what they will experience during the event and to get them excited to participate. You can also ask your audience for advice or help with content to make sure you meet the demand. Creating a virtual event is a great time investment and you don’t want it to be wasted and lost. Also, make sure to hype up your corporate virtual event the same way you would an in-person event.
Insider tip: Remember that in a virtual world it’s easier for presenters to appear much more dull than in real life. Choose wisely and remind them to make an added effort to speak with enthusiasm and keep your audience engaged!
Depending on what platform you use, your corporate virtual event can have various positive long-term outcomes. You can capture a larger audience if you post it online and people are able to replay it on their own time. You can also take video and audio content and convert it into text, for those who prefer reading to watching or listening. These are important things to consider so you can make sure the content can be redistributed in the way you want. Make sure you check with licenses and copyright when deciding on a platform.
At the end of your virtual event, we’d also suggest getting some feedback from participants through some type of survey. It’s always good to make sure your content is relevant and interesting, especially if you are thinking about organising virtual events on a regular basis.
We live in an ever more connected world dependent on technology. It’s important to make sure the connection is secure and that unwanted visitors are not able to access your meeting.
We know that corporate virtual events don’t compare to in-person ones, but we must adjust to our new temporary reality and make the best of all the technology at our fingertips. We are fortunate we live in a time where we are able to connect and see each other despite not physically being in the same room. Virtual events also allow you to reach a wider audience because attendees only require access to the internet to participate.
Also keep in mind that by switching to virtual events, you are not only helping to stop the spread of the coronavirus, you are also helping to reduce your carbon footprint on the world. It’s important to remember that there is always a silver lining to every situation and to do your best to stay positive during these uncertain times. It’s a great time to focus on greater sustainability efforts and develop other CSR opportunities. We have access to the internet and other resources that many people in the world are not fortunate enough to have, so let’s take advantage and give back!